Two days ahead of the Centre holding a tripartite discussion in the national capital on resolving issues in order to resume construction of NHPC’s 1000-MW Lower Subansiri hydro-electric project on the Assam-Aunachal border, a “citizens’ meeting” on Tuesday asked the government to first address the issues raised by an expert committee on safety of the dam and its downstream impact.
The “citizens’ meeting” organized by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) said issues related to vulnerability of the dam to seismic activities and, also, likely adverse impact in the downstream areas will have to be discussed and cleared by the government before resuming work on the project. The project has been lying in limbo since December 2011 even after completion of 60 per cent construction work due to several groups including the KMSS and All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) launching separate agitations against it.
“The government of India and NHPC have been trying to hoodwink the people by constituting a dam design review panel which has ignored the issues raised by two different expert committees, one constituted by the Assam government and the other by the Centre itself. Comprising of NHPC and Central Water Commission officers, the review panel did not touch the basic issues pointed out by the two expert committees,” KMSS president Akhil Gogoi alleged here on Tuesday.
The union power ministry has invited representatives of 27 different organizations including KMSS, AAS, AJYCP and Takam Mising Porin Kebang (TMPK) to a meeting in New Delhi on Thursday to find a solution to end the stalemate that has already led to heavy loss to the public exchequer since December 2011. The proposed meeting will be chaired by union power minister Piyush Goyal.
Akhil said the “citizens’ meeting” organized by KMSS has also demanded revision of the national hydro-power policy so that Assam could get free 12 per cent power from all the 168 big and small hydel project in Arunachal Pradesh. “Assam should also impose a tax on every megawatt of power evacuated from the Arunachal projects through the state,” he said.
NHPC’s Lower Subansiri hydel project located at Gerukamukh on the Assam-Arunachal border is incurring a daily loss of Rs 10 crore after anti-dam activists of Assam brought work on it to a grinding halt in December 2011. The 2000-MW project on the Subansiri river is the largest in the country.